Horse breed facts:
By Linda Hurley
Black, bold and beautiful the Friesian horse has noble and ancient bloodlines. Native to the Dutch province of Friesland the Friesian is a national treasure whose bloodlines are strictly protected to preserve the purity of the breed.
Friesians have a long and distinguished history dating all the way back to the Middle Ages when it is said that monks bred a large prehistoric draft-type breed with the smaller Arabs and Andalusians. In medieval times Friesians carried knights in their heavy armor into battle and were sought after in European royal courts as carriage horses.
The versatility of the Friesian horse and its gentle, calm and trainable nature makes this horse a wonderful companion. It can be seen competing in harness, dressage and showing and although less common has even been spotted in the show jumping ring.
A Friesian is always black any other color is unregistrable. The only white marking that is permissible is a small white star on the forehead. By the age of four stallions and geldings must be at least 15.3 hands and mares 14.3 hands. With a naturally arched neck carriage, long flowing mane and tail, strong back and animated gait a Friesian rarely fails to capture the attention of everyone around them.
To protect the purity of the breed there are very strict guidelines for breeding and registering Friesian horses. Friesians bred all over the world have to undergo a thorough inspection by officials from the KFPS Dutch Studbook.
The studbook has three levels; the Main studbook, B Book 1 and B Book 2. The Main studbook contains approved stallions and selected mares. The progeny of two Main studbook parents are also eligible for Main studbook status. Each year a limited number of young stallions are approved to stand at stud.
In order to achieve approval the stallions must undergo a seventy day performance test that is only available in The Netherlands. Main studbook stallions are referred to as licensed stallions. In countries where no licensed stallions exist permits are issued. Any purebred Friesian sired by a permit stallion is registered in B Book 1 and B Book 2 caters to purebred Friesians sired by stallions without a permit.
Foals are recorded in the Foalbook of each register until they reach three years of age at which time they are presented for inspection. Any that do not pass the conformation, movement or markings criteria remain in the Foalbook for life.
The Friesian’s spectacular appearance coupled with their generous nature attracts many would be owners to the breed. The Friesian Societies’ dedication to breed purity means purchasing a purebred Friesian is not an inexpensive exercise however owners will tell you they are well worth the cost.